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Mr Neil Warren

Mr Neil Warren

Business Engagement Specialist - Tourism


Streatham Court, University of Exeter, Rennes Drive, Exeter, EX4 4PU, UK

Neil joined the University of Exeter Business School in June 2012. Working through the newly created Centre for Business and Climate Solutions, Neil’s work focuses on enabling the tourism sector to make use of the expertise in the University and its partners to find practical solutions for increased competitiveness and quality with reduced emissions.  

Neil has worked for a range of organisations in the UK and overseas, from grassroot NGOs to national tourism bodies. A large part of his career has been based at regional tourist boards, most recently South West Tourism (2005 – 2011), where he was responsible for developing and delivering a programme engaging with tourism businesses, Destination Management Organisations, visitors and other decision-makers. This programme was recognised in both of tourism’s international sustainability awards, including being one of three finalists in the World Travel & Tourism Council’s Tourism for Tomorrow Awards.

He has been a regular advisor to the national tourism organisation, development organisation, Tearfund, and worked with a range of partners in Kazakhstan as part of a two- year VSO placement developing community-based ecotourism. Neil acts as a judge for a range of sustainability awards, provided input to the UN World Tourism Organisation’s training programme and is a long-term member of Tourism Concern.


Research interests

  • Sustainable Tourism

Neil is interested in helping to create a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities that the tourism sector faces in becoming more sustainable. This includes establishing the true progress being made by the sector, the barriers to change and how they may be overcome, along with identifying and disseminating examples of innovation within the sector.

Current research activity

To succeed in the future, the tourism sector must marry goals of resilience, competitiveness and emission reduction while continuing to deliver visitor satisfaction. Energy consumption crosses all these issues and will be the focus of research to be carried out within the Centre for Business and Climate Solutions. There are four strands of research:

  • Focus 1: Progress or Damage Limitation?
    • Is the amount of energy used in tourism businesses changing?
    • Are gains made through efficient technology being negated by other factors?
    • What are the key drivers for energy demand within tourism businesses?
  • Focus 2: Patterns of Energy Use
    • What daily and seasonal patterns of use exist?
    • How do businesses compare in terms of quantity of electrical appliances?
    • How does the decision to service laundry in-house or outsourced affect energy use?
    • How do business owners understand the patterns of energy use in their premises?
  • Focus 3: Hard to Treat
    • What scale of challenge is presented by the sector’s largely historic building stock?
    • How vulnerable are rural businesses that are off the mains gas grid?
    • What potential exists for adapting the stock?
  • Focus 4: Business Engagement
    • How can tourism businesses be more effectively engaged on energy issues?
    • Which messages and formats of support are likely to achieve greatest engagement?

External positions

  • Independent Sustainable Tourism Consultant
  • Member of the Tourism Society & Tourism Management Institute
  • Committee Member – South West Tourism Alliance
  • Judge for Devon Environmental Business Initiative Awards